07 January 2011

Energy expert sparks lively debate

IChemE Fellow and invited speaker, Andrew Jamieson delivered a thought provoking presentation at the Western Australian Joint Chemical Engineering Committee (WA JCEC) AGM last month when he outlined the 'hard truths' facing chemical engineers and society at large. 

Jamieson, an internationally respected energy executive, presented Energy in the coming decades: a world of internal contradictions and discussed the challenges that surround energy supply and demand and how society was responding to climate change.

IChemE WA state member chair Kelvin Taylor, said that the meeting was well attended and while Jamieson’s presentation didn’t give solutions to the challenges we face, he did get people thinking about how chemical engineers can become part of the search for answers. 

Taylor said: "Jamieson said that as a consequence of their industrialisation, the largest contributors to energy consumption over the next while will be from non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, specifically India and China.

"He also predicted the future of coal, gas and oil by reasoning that coal will continue to be a major energy source due to its cost and the size and location of reserves. 

"Jamieson said that because there is a short-term glut of oil, and a longer term, gas surplus, which will keep energy prices down, this will slow the adoption of renewables which hasn’t been helped by governments distorting the market by subsidising various technologies over others."

Jamieson highlighted that one of the key challenges faced by chemical engineers is to engage politicians within the political process so that their views are heard and considered.

Jamieson warned delegates that engineers can't complain about the policy if they don't get involved in its formulation.

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